Tom Shafer

Window replacement is a breeze, not a cyclone

August 16, 2011

Are you contemplating new windows but agonizing over the installation? Maybe you are having nightmares, imagining a sweaty crew arriving in a filthy dump truck, brandishing chainsaws and cutting gaping holes in your walls. Meanwhile, inside your house, dust swirls like miniature tornadoes and the horror drags on for weeks.

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Nothing could be further from the truth! Simple window replacement is usually completed in one or two days. It is minimally disruptive and clean--and chainsaws are not involved. In reality, replacement window installation proceeds more like this:

Professional window measurements

Taking measurements, ordering supplies

  1. Your salesperson takes rough measurements, calculates the price and completes the purchase transaction.
  2. A professional installer takes final measurements to assure the windows are manufactured to the correct size. They make notes whether any water damage and wood rot repairs or replacements are necessary.
  3. The installer sends in the measurements and supply orders. (Other supplies could include caulk to seal openings, shims for squaring, trim coil to wrap any exposed wood, and new casing and trim wood for either the inside or outside of the windows.)

On window replacement day

  1. Furniture and window coverings are removed from the window areas.
  2. The crew of installers place drop cloths throughout the house, creating a path and protecting the flooring around your windows.
  3. The installers unwrap your new windows and stage them where each one will be installed, verifying the number of windows and sizes are correct.

Installing the new windows

Some crews work from the outside, some from the inside, but both are just as effective.

  1. When disassembling the old windows, the installers remove some of the trim pieces and take out the sash (the frame that holds the glass), which will be discarded.
  2. The remaining frame is cleaned of all dust.
  3. Any deteriorated wood is replaced.
  4. The perimeter of the new window gets caulked to assure a waterproof, airtight fit.
  5. They push insulation into the space between the window and the jamb of the old window.
  6. The stops, which have probably been discarded, are replaced with new ones--either square or ¼-inch round strips of wood--affixed to hold the window in place.
  7. Trim can sometimes require aluminum or vinyl coil covering.

After all of the windows are replaced, the discarded sashes are loaded in the truck. Your furniture and window coverings are back in place. Your installation crew sweeps and rakes the yard.

And they leave little evidence they were ever there…except for your beautiful new windows, of course.

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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